Fiat 500, based on the new Panda
13 July 2007.
For Fiat, the new 500 is more than
a new model. It is part of a new era for the Italian
brand, after hard times followed by a failed
partnership with General Motors (2000-2005), and then,
That revival did not wait for the
new 500. It started earlier with the new and
Punto in the B-segment (supermini, sub-compact),
the new Panda
minicar, on which the new 500 is based (the Panda /
500 platform will be also used for the new Ford Ka,
expected for 2008), and the new C-segment Bravo
(lower medium, compact category), in addition to the
agreement with Suzuki to sell the SX4
under the Fiat badge, as the Fiat
from €10,500: premium minicar rather
than a cheap one.
So, the new 500 is part of a ‘new
Fiat’ era, a successful one, as it seems, and that's
what Fiat means now by the Manifesto of the "New
However, with prices starting in
Europe from around €10,500, the new Fiat 500 doesn't
revive all what the cheap original 500 represented.
The new 500 is a dearer car
compared to its size category, and the Italian
carmaker hopes to generate a handsome profit margin on
a nostalgic concept, somehow like the New Mini (from
around €15,900 in France for example) does at the
BMW Group since 2001, or like the New Beetle (from
around €15,140, France), launched by VW in 1998.
Of course, New Mini and New
Beetle are bigger and more expensive than the Fiat
500, but the comparison stands more on the
nostalgia-premium concept than on the actual sizes and
prices of these models. On a pure price basis, other
similarly sized models come significantly cheaper,
such as the Panda, the new Renault Twingo, or the
Czech-made trio Citroën C1, Peugeot 107 and Toyota
Aygo (common project between PSA and Toyota).
Anyway, the Italian taste for
colours and design cannot be underestimated, and the
new 500 is a good illustration. The main point is
that, unlike the original Fiat 500, the new one won't
be bought because it is a cheap car, but as a
statement of a chic difference.
A look at the new Fiat products is
more than sufficient to show that Fiat is back to what
it has always been known for: a brand of exciting
popular cars, with a clear energetic identity.
Designed by the Fiat Style Centre
and built in the plant in Tychy (Poland), the new 500
is a ‘3-door’ model with compact dimensions: 355
centimetres long, 163 cm wide, 149 cm tall and with a
wheelbase of 230 centimetres. A compact car with soft,
years between the original
(background) and the new 500.
Now, divide the Fiat 500 name by
ten, and you get the exact age of the model. 50 years
ago, the first edition of the Fiat 500 was launched,
before it became an icon of motoring, especially in
Italy, but not just there.
Giacosa’s designed 500 was launched on July 4,
1957, as a cycle of rebirth was closing after the war,
and a period of renewal of the company’s product
range was also coming to an end, opening the way for a
cycle of successes in the coming decade, one of the
brightest periods in the brand’s one hundred year
compact car built to achieve a 5-star
rating in the EuroNCAP.
The new 500 respects the original
concept in its shape and function, but with
significant innovations for the segment.
First, the car is launched with the
full range of engines
(69 bhp 1.2. 75 bhp 1.3 Multijet with DPF and 100 bhp
1.4 16v) ready to meet the emissions limits set by
Euro 5 standards, more than two years before the
It is also the first time that a
compact car (3.55 metres) has been built to achieve a
5-star rating in the EuroNCAP impact tests, and Fiat
claims that the 500 is ready for the 6-star test if
and when the new rating is introduced.
The choices made in the
construction of the range of outfits and services
include 7 airbags as standard equipment (it is the
only compact to offer a kneebag), and an advanced ESP
available with all engines (standard on the 100 bhp
The new 500 offers 4 specification
levels, 3 engines at the launch, 12 colours, including
6 vintage colours that will bring the 1950s and 1960s
to mind, plus tri-coat white produced by a process
that is usually adopted on luxury cars, 15 types of
upholstery including luxurious Cordura and Frau
Leather, 9 types of wheel rims, and 19 types of
A a second generation Blue&Me
is optionally available, and an iPod can be
incorporated thanks to the socket, the battery
charger, USB and 12V sockets. A new portable navigator
was developed for the 500 with Magneti Marelli, which
is fitted directly on the dashboard and connects to
other vehicle functions.
of the steering wheel rim options.
Other options include a new ‘fragrance
diffuser’ with a choice of three fragrances, a
jacket hanger on the head-restraint, a mobile phone
holder, aluminium pedals, the 500 logo on the kick
panel of the door, and three types of leather
upholstery for the gear lever knob, to match the
steering wheel. Free-time accessories include the
original luggage rack that fits on the rear window and
a convenient storage unit in the loading floor.
A new type of ignition key also
makes its debut on the new model, on which the
protective covering can be changed, choosing from 9
covers that match the bodywork or the stickers.
different fabric or leather interiors
(in a choice of 3 shades).
Some loan plans include 5 years or
500,000 km warranty, with the ‘500 Free’ package:
a mobile workshop will be at his disposal 24 hours a
day to guarantee complete roadside service. These two
products will be available on all European markets,
starting in Italy, through Sava, and in France, from
Fiat Crédit, which are the first two markets where
the Fiat 500 will be launched.
The Fiat 500 is the first Fiat
model to use its own name as a logo, positioning it on
the wheel hubs and rims.
The new Fiat 500 comes with a
choice of three engines combined with 5 or 6 speed
sequential robotised 5-speed gearbox will be
available at a later date for the petrol engines).
There are two petrol units, the 69
bhp 1.2 and the 100 bhp 1.4 from the Fire family that
boasts a total output of over ten million engines to
date. The third is the 75 bhp 1.3 16v Multijet
turbodiesel with a particulate trap (PDF) as standard
equipment. You can see the technical details of the engines
in their own pages, or in the specifications
at the front, and semi-independent at
In terms of safety,
the new Fiat 500 is the first car in this category to
offer up to 7 airbags (front, side, curtain- and
knee-bags are all standard throughout the range,
except for the Naked version). It also proposes a
number of active safety elements such as the ABS with
EBD function (standard in all Pop, Sports and Lounge
versions), ESP (Electronic Stability Program, standard
or optional, depending on versions and markets), which
includes other function such as the ASR (Anti Slip
Regulation), HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance) and a
Hill Holder device. A more detailed list of the safety
features is available in the safety
jacket hanger and convenient storage solutions.
The suspension adopts an
independent MacPherson system at the front, and
semi-independent interconnected wheels with a torsion
axle at the rear (see also specifications
page). The two layouts have evolved from a Magneti
Marelli design and have been used on other Fiat models
in the past; they have now been revised and modified
for the new car, to guarantee outstanding handling and
the highest possible level of comfort.
The brake system on the new
car has front discs with a diameter of 240 mm; they
are solid for versions with the 1.2 8v engine and
ventilated for the 1.3 Multijet, with a diameter of
257 mm for versions with the 100 bhp 1.4 16v. The rear
brakes mount drums (180 mm) on the 1.2 8v and 1.3
Multijet, and discs (240 mm) on the 1.4 16v.
Equipment (Italian Market) -
The Fiat 500 offers over 500,000 ways of customising
the car, with 12 body colours, 4 specifications
(Naked, Pop, Sport and Lounge), 3 different fabric or
leather interiors (in a choice of 3 shades) and 9
types of wheel rims, (7 alloys), as well as 100
accessories created specifically for the model.
The Naked version
will not be sold in Italy, where the range will start
from the Pop version. So, depending on your market,
consider the Naked version to be rather
"undressed", until you get the equipment
list from your dealer.
luggage rack that fits on the rear
The Pop version
includes (standard) two front airbags, two
curtain-bags, two sidebags and one knee-bag, ABS
complete with EBD, front headlights with DRL function
(daytime lights), specific upholstery with a choice of
Ivory or Black elements, Dualdrive electric power
steering, black electric wing mirrors,
height-adjustable steering wheel, centralised locking
and electric windows, 175/65 R14" wheels (steel)
with integral wheel hubs. The 500 Pop specification is
available with all three engines, but with the 100 bhp
1.4 16v the outfit includes the ESP system and an
instrument panel with sporty graphics.
The Lounge version
includes the Chrome kit which features chrome-plated
inserts in the seals of the side windows, on the
exhaust terminal, on the trim of the inside door
handle, the gear lever and the front and rear bumpers.
On the outside, the new 500 Lounge features 185/55
R15" alloys, electric body-coloured wing mirrors
and a fixed glass roof with sunshade. Inside, it
features special fabrics, a leather-upholstered
steering wheel with the controls of the Blue&Me
system, manual climate control, a radio, CD and MP3
player, a height adjustable front seat, a 50/50 split
rear seat with head-restraints, a key with customised
remote control and an active handle on the tailgate.
specification includes sporty seats with special foam,
a rear spoiler, interior upholstery in exclusive
colours and fabrics, a chrome-plated exhaust terminal
and chrome inserts in the door sills. It also offers
185/55 R15" sporty alloys, manual climate
control, a sporty steering wheel in two colours with
the controls for the Blue&Me system, a radio with
CD and MP3 player, and electric wing mirrors painted
the same colour as the bodywork.
The Sport and Lounge equipped with
the 100 bhp 1.4 16v engine also offer the ESP system
as standard equipment and an instrument panel with
The list of optional equipment
includes the automatic
climate control system, the robotised
gearbox, the Sky
Dome, the Interscope
Hi-Fi system, the Blue&Me
Nav, Blue&Me Map 500 and many others.
The Fiat 500 can be equipped with
some special devices from the Autonomy Program,
the initiative introduced by the company more than
eleven years ago to develop services and vehicles that
provide individual and collective transport for people
with reduced motor capacities.
An outfit by Guidosimplex developed
specifically for the new car has an electronic ring
accelerator under the steering wheel with a vertical
service brake. And to make it easy to fit a wheelchair
on the rear seat and make the driver completely
autonomous, the driver’s seat can swivel 90°.